Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released a new report based on a year-long investigation of VA hospitals around the nation that chronicled the inappropriate conduct and incompetence within the VA that led to well-documented veterans’ deaths and delays.
The report, called Friendly Fire: Death, Delay and Dismay at the VA, takes a critical look at the agency as well as Congress.
“This reports shows the problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined. The scope of the VA’s incompetence – and Congress’ indifferent oversight – is breathtaking and disturbing. This investigation found the problems at the VA are far deeper than just scheduling. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of the VA’s misconduct and the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice. As is typical with any bureaucracy, the excuse for not being able to meet goals is a lack of resources. But this is not the case at the VA where spending has increased rapidly in recent years,” Dr. Coburn said.
Coburn is highly critical of Congress in the report, blaming many of the VA’s problems on Congressional inaction. “The reason veterans care has suffered for so long is Congress has failed to hold the VA accountable. Despite years of warnings from government investigators about efforts to cook the books, it took the unnecessary deaths of veterans denied care from Atlanta to Phoenix to prompt Congress to finally take action,” Coburn writes in the report.
The report looks at areas such as VA care eligibility, wait times at varying VA locations around the country, disability benefit claims delays, and scheduling manipulation, a practice that the report says VA management knew about for six years.
Other findings from the report include:
- A culture of manipulation permeates the department
- The agency made the waiting list problem worse
- Billions of dollars have been wasted
- The Senate VA committee is largely to blame for many of VA’s problems due to its failure to act